Devoting Some Time to Silence
Maybe it’s just a penchant I have to be pessimistic at times, but I’m seeing incompetence and a great lack of responsibility and non-keeping of promises to meet work obligations at levels of mass disruption that I have never seen in the past. I think the reason for this is that many of us are working more than ever before, due primarily to the fact that we are still mostly working remotely and consequently being less occupied by the social interactions and face-to-face meetings we had pre-pandemic. We’re basically sitting in our home offices working overtime, burning ourselves out. In the end, however, we are not being very effective as we spread ourselves thin. I’m just as guilty as the next busy individual on this front. One colleague, for instance, explained to me how he is overextended and under resourced–and hence, not very effective–that’s me these days.
Our Desire to Do Good
Overall, we mean to do good and are trying. We’re constantly on video conferences, attending webinars in unprecedented numbers, explaining to our colleagues all that we know, providing sage advice, exchanging great ideas, listening intently to each other–but in the end–at least this is how it seems to me, one person–we are not really making a significant impact on anything. We are just doing without slowing down to enable us to do things effectively. Onto the next virtual conference, onto the next virtual anything. I was just invited to a one-day virtual workshop that looked very interesting, but it was being held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with several relatively brief breaks in between. Who can sit in front of a video screen listening to people speak for 10 hours without going comatose?
Yes, we can conduct surveys, write articles and reports, tell the world what we think needs to be done–but just look at Congress for a paradigm of our ineffectiveness. Or just look at the way many are dealing with the pandemic to get a sense of our inadequacies and selfish behaviors. Or just look at the rampant post-truth world we are now living in. Or just look at how we are dealing with climate change. We are basically talking and writing an awful lot, but are not making any real progress?
We are Not Great
In the meantime, we keep telling each other how great we are, how smart we are–but again, what is getting done in the end? Every time I now see colleagues lavishing praise on each other, I cringe. Why? Because I’m not seeing any significant results, at least not yet (there’s always hope), and as you can tell by the tone of this short piece, I’m starting to get impatient. Maybe we should have a webinar to discuss meaningful impacts and where they actually exist. Maybe we should share and promote real impacts and results that are happening right now the focus of all our future communications instead of dishing out what we think needs to be done all the time. And isn’t it ironic that I’m doing just that–telling others what needs to be done?
In any event, perhaps what we need is some Silence. Perhaps we should spend a few days thinking about what we are actually doing instead of constantly talking about what we should be doing. I’m referring to the notion of Silence with a capital S, as propositioned by Joan Chittister who, in her newest book “The Monastic Heart,”
writes the following:
“Only by immersing ourselves softly, quietly, placidly in the silence that centers us in the essence of life can we ever come to live truth to the core, life to the full… The modern world has begun to understand the effects of noise but has done little to examine the effects of silence, the only real antidote we have to the constant rattle and roar, blaring and shouting of contemporary life.”
Perhaps the “Great Resignation” and “Great Reassessment” of work needs some Silence for a while so people can really think through what their futures may hold.